Originally Posted by Cooper'
I agree. So what do you suggest? You mentioned Ralph Lauren. I could be a poster boy for them, well not really but I do get a lot of their shirts. I guess that's really the dilemma. How to look sharp, classic, and slightly set apart without looking out of place taking my wife to the mall.
I too like the Black Label line, but their selection is limited. Personally, I suggest you load up on white, cream, and tan linen pants, linen shirts in white and navy (short sleeve and long sleeve), a couple of iconic pieces like tees with horizontal naval stripes (ironically, the aforementioned demon-store J. Crew has some rather nice examples of this that you can wear), cotton sweaters of the same, maybe some pink and light blue gingham long sleeve shirts in light cotton, and a FEW polos (I have only three; a Ralph polo in custom fit white, a navy, and a deep red). Toss in a light weight khaki trouser, a seersucker trouser, and if you can find 'em (I get 'em bespoke) a pair of light grey and dark grey fresco trousers, and if you like, a pair of light weight red cords or cotton pants, and you should be good to go. That's your summer wear.
No cargo pants. No shorts (but if you MUST, one - and only one - pair of khaki shorts). And use the polos sparingly.
Cool weather clothes are a bit more demanding on the budget but are pretty easy. A good set of sweaters in various wools so you have some variety regarding texture (primarily crewnecks and rollnecks with a cardigan or two thrown-in if you like that look), some corduroys (dark brown and light brown are the staples), trousers made out of moleskin (dark colors) and flannel (light grey, mid grey, and dark grey). Flannels should be your equivalent of blue jeans. Your shirts should be cotton/wool blends or heavy OCBDs in white and blue. Throw in some tattersoll shirts and a couple of all-purpose patterned shirts (stripes and ginghams in darker colors) and you've got the basics.
Ralph sells most of the above in good cuts at decent prices. You can go pretty slim if you look for that end of their product line, but you can also go more classic. I recommend a mix of both.
FYI, I'm 47.